Pre-nuptial agreements would encourage land transfer

THE Minister for Justice Alan Shatter to change the law to provide legal status to pre-nuptial agreements, as part of its reform programme for family law.

THE Minister for Justice Alan Shatter to change the law to provide legal status to pre-nuptial agreements, as part of its reform programme for family law.

IFA President, John Bryan said he would be seeking an early meeting with Minister Shatter, and he hoped the Minister’s long-held interest in family law would be reflected in the legislation he implements. John Bryan commented, “IFA’s interest in the issue of the legal status of pre-nuptial agreements arises primarily from our policy of seeking to ensure that the inter-generational transfer of family farms takes place in an orderly and timely fashion.”

“It is in the interest of family successors, who are the farmers of the future, and in the national economic interest, that succession is not unduly delayed. The Programme for Government has identified as a priority the promotion of greater land mobility and involvement of young farmers, and supports the recommendations for agricultural growth contained in the Food Harvest 2020 report.

Despite a number of supports and incentives for early family farm transfer, such as Stamp Duty Relief for young trained farmers, the age structure in farming has deteriorated in recent years. In 2007, only 7% of farmers were aged 35 or under. This compares with over 13% in 2000.

IFA Farm Business Chairman James Kane stated, “An important factor contributing to the declining age structure of farmers is the concern by the parents who own the farm about the implications of marriage breakdown in the case of the successor, and subsequent legal judgments affecting the family farm assets. I acknowledge that this may not be the only factor in delaying normal inter-generational transfers, but I believe it is a dominant one.”

Concluding, the IFA President said he hoped to make the case for not breaking up the family farm, or other family business, as part of a settlement as in many farm situations, the break-up of the family farm would undermine the capacity of the family business to provide reasonable income to all parties concerned.